Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), General Godfrey Ngwenya, has been appointed Ambassador-designate to the Republic of Angola, the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans has announced. Lieutenant General Themba Matanzima will act in his stead until further notice. A handover parade will take place next month on a date which will be announced in due course.
“The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans takes the honour and pleasure to announce the redeployment of the General Godfrey Ngwenya,” a statement released earlier this afternoon avered.
“The President of the Republic of South Africa and Commander in Chief, His Excellency Jacob Zuma has appointed the Chief of South African National Defence Force, the Chief of South African National Defence Force, General Godfrey Ngwenya as Ambassador-designate to the Republic of Angola.”
The announcement came as Zuma was hosting his Angolan counterpart, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos in Pretoria.
The defence ministry says Ngwenya, “an astute and accomplished natural leader, diligently served the country and inspired the loyal men and women in uniform of the SANDF to take a giant leap in ensuring that the citizens of South Africa are and feel safe. Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and the Department of Defence and Military Veterans and Senior Management of the SANDF wish to express their greatest gratitude to General Ngwenya for his steadfast allegiance and to also wish him and his entire family all of the best in his future endeavours.”
“The posting is most fitting given that General Ngwenya spent his formative military years in that country where he underwent his military training and rose through the ranks and assumed his military leadership responsibilities. He was the last soldier to leave Angola to assume a new responsibility of creating a new SANDF that is founded on our country’s Constitutional values.
“General Ngwenya has shown his military and strategic leadership over the years. His depth of political understanding has enabled him to lead the SANDF through its transformation to where it is today. His redeployment as our Ambassador to Angola only fitting since it was in that country that he cut his ‘military’ teeth,” the ministry says.
Ngwenya assumed his current post on June 1, 2005. Prior to that he served as Chief of Joint Operations from January 2001 and Deputy Chief of Joint Operations from 1999 to 2000. Ngwenya was born in Johannesburg on April 28 1950. He attended Orlando High School where he matriculated in 1970. From 1971 to 1976 he was employed by the then West Rand Administration Board (WRAB) as a Grade 1 Clerk. He joined the ANC and ANC’s Military Wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), at the height of a student uprising in South Africa in 1976, his motivation being the brutality he witnessed firsthand while working as a senior clerk at the then-Baragwanath Hospital. While in exile he underwent military training in Angola and received his further training in the then-German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) and Soviet Union (USSR).
Matanzima was appointed Chief of Joint Operations on September 1, 2007 following the death of incumbent Lt Gen Sipho Binda in a motor vehicle collision a year before. In 2010 he was also acting Secretary for Defence and Acting CSANDF on various occasions. He was previously the inaugural Chief of Human Resources, formally taking command of the HR Division on its creation on 26 January 2007. Prior to this he had been Chief of Corporate Staff. Matanzima was born on February 2, 1953 in Cofimvaba. He matriculated at Jongilizwe High School in 1976 and joined the erstwhile Transkei Defence Force (TDF) in January 1977. He was commissioned on August 18, 1978 and afterwards qualified as a paratrooper officer. Matanzima reached the rank of Brigadier ten years later and was in 1987 appointed Chief of Staff of the TDF. In 1993 he was promoted Chief of the TDF and Major General.
Freedom Front Plus defence spokesman Pieter Groenewald said the appointment of the new CSANDF “must be on merit on not on political loyalty or historical support.” The FF+ MP, who was a member of Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu’s Interim National Defence Force Service Commission added the “state of the defence force demands a professional soldier as chief who will ensure there is proper discipline and that the welfare of personnel enjoy priority.”